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10:42:56 am

Auto Repair: How to Find a Good Mechanic - Yahoo Voices

Having a car repaired is an expense just about everyone will encounter at some point. But how much you spend on auto repair can vary tremendously. A lot of the cost is dictated by the type and brand of vehicle you own; some cars and trucks simply have more expensive parts on them. And to a large degree how many miles the vehicle has on it will make a difference; older cars generally need to be fixed more often.

But perhaps the biggest factor of all in how much you pay for auto repair is the basic question of who is doing the repair. A good auto repair shop can save you a lot of money by honestly assessing your car's condition, telling you which repairs can be delayed, and presenting you with less-expensive alternatives.

Conversely, a bad auto shop may conduct a dishonest evaluation of your car's problems, try to scare you into fixing things sooner than necessary, and offer only the most expensive repair options.

Unfortunately, it can be a little tricky to find the good ones. Unlike doctors, lawyers, and other professions, the standards for automobile mechanics aren't set in stone. "There is no licensing requirement for mechanics, which means there is no absolute way to judge how good one is at first," writes Jeff Shumway, author of The Answer, Getting car dent repair Leeds More and Paying Less for Auto Service.

Although trying different auto repair shops firsthand is ultimately the only way to know for sure how good a mechanic is, there are some simple steps you can take to ensure that you're trusting your car to a reputable shop.

Check consumer associations

You can quickly rule out shops that you don't want to trust your car to by checking with your local Better Business Bureau or other local sources that compile complaints about businesses. You might want to also check online for reviews of auto repair shops. Although online reviews tend to focus more on national chains, a quick search only takes a few seconds and may give you valuable insight on a local repair shop.

Get recommendations from people you trust

One of the best sources of information to use when selecting an auto repair shop are the opinions you get from people that you know and trust. Were they satisfied with the repair? Was the work done quickly? How were the shop's prices? Did mechanics take enough time to explain problems? Were they willing to present alternatives?

Look for ASE certification

Although there isn't a mandatory licensing process for automotive mechanics, many auto repair shops are certified by The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). This is a voluntary program that tests mechanics on a range of automotive repair issues, and then issues a certification upon passing. It's a well-known credential that provides some clue as to an auto repair shop's ability to service problems on today's cars.

But ASE certification has its limitations, and should be considered just one part of deciding how good a shop is. "Unfortunately, the ASE mechanics tests are only multiple-choice written exams - no important hands-on or 'real world' testing. ..." writes Shumway. "If you intend to use ASE certification as criteria, look only for mechanics who have passed all of the ASE tests, designated as ASE Master Mechanic."

Try mechanics when it's not an emergency

When your car needs immediate repair, you're not in a position to be really choosy about who's doing the work. For that reason, it's best to start researching auto repair shops before you have a dire emergency. One good strategy is to start with something simple. If you're considering a particular shop, take your car there for an oil change or other routine maintenance. See how you like dealing with the people there and try to get a feeling for their competency. Then you'll be in a better position when you have a pressing auto repair crisis that needs more serious attention.


The Answer; Getting More and Paying Less for Auto Service, by Jeff Shumway. Copyright 1995, Preston House.

The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE)

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